Home Wellness Could you do a no sugar diet? Here’s what I learned from 5 days without sugar

Could you do a no sugar diet? Here’s what I learned from 5 days without sugar

by Andrea Updyke

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After only 5 days on a no sugar diet, I realized the power sugar really has over me. Here’s what happened when I cut added sugar out of my diet for less than a week. 

I am trying to be more conscious of the way different foods make my body feel. For years, I have been anti-diet yet I have fallen prey to popular fads from time to time. And now that I’m 40, I am more aware of various forms of “food hangovers” and life is so much better when I stop and listen to my body.

What I know is I will never completely eliminate any category of food from my diet. It’s not realistic or healthy in my opinion and that is one reason I am loving my FASTer Way to Fat Loss journey. All good things in moderation and all sugar is not created equal.

My affiliate links are below, which means I may earn money from purchases made through my links. Post updated from Feb 2015

Could you go 5 days without added sugar? I took the no sugar challenge and learned a lot about the no sugar diet, meal and snack recipe ideas and benefits of eating clean. It wasn't as hard as I expected!

What is a No Sugar Diet?

A no sugar diet is an eating plan where you don’t consume foods with added sugar. Foods, like fruit, with naturally occurring sugar are ok in moderation.

I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app off and on for years now. I love data so it’s interesting for me to track calories and other information. The most success I have ever had losing weight has been when I counted calories and more recently, macros.

It’s an arduous task and pretty annoying, but it worked for me. But one thing I never paid attention to was my sugar intake. I figured, if I was within my calorie limits, it didn’t matter.

I was wrong.

My No Sugar Challenge

When my friend Erin challenged me and others to consume no more than 25g of sugar daily for 5 consecutive days, I wanted to give it a shot. Those 25g needed to also come from natural sources like fruits and vegetables and we couldn’t use artificial sweeteners either.

I liked that no added sugar didn’t mean zero sugar.  The no sugar diet seemed like an easy task until you realize one apple contains half the daily sugar allowance. And just so you know, 25-30g of sugar is the American Heart Association’s recommendation, not just some number Erin pulled out of the air.

So I thought, why not? It’s basically just my workweek. I have already started to cut back on processed foods, so cutting sugar shouldn’t be that hard. And in many ways it wasn’t! Here is what I learned by cutting sugar for a week.

5 Things I learned after 5 days of a No Sugar Diet

  1. I stopped feeling hungry when I cut sugar. This was by and large the biggest light-bulb moment of the week. I prepared my meals. I ate my meals. I was satisfied with my meals. There were several days when I wasn’t even hungry for the snack I had prepared in advance and even one day when I had to force myself to meet my 1200 calorie minimum. Please understand something; this is NOT me. I LOVE to eat. But without my normal cravings, my brain finally understood when I didn’t NEED to eat.oatmeal breakfast
  2. I have a lot more energy when I eat less sugar. I have cut calories before, which often left me exhausted. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t get to the gym this week, but as I am trying to be more consistent with my exercise, I can actually see it happening now. And cooking is actually fun again! In fact, I’ve been adding more and more gadgets to make staying healthy more enjoyable.
  3. I got a nice productivity boost with out a sugar crash. This was a particularly trying and busy work-week. I found that when there were fires to put out, I was able to focus on the task at hand and get it done. I was more efficient and quicker to make decisions.steak lunch
  4. Sugar is added to a LOT of products. I already have a habit of reading labels, but like I said, I never really paid attention to sugar. I switched to using unsweetened vanilla almond milk in my coffee and that was probably the biggest adjustment for me. Cereal bars and granola bars were the other processed sugar giants that I used to lean on. They may be low in calories, but they are LOADED with sugar.
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    snacks
  5. I actually enjoy eating real food that isn’t loaded with sugar. Cutting sugar does not mean I am eating diet food. I refuse to do that. It’s more expensive to buy prepackaged program bars or special breads. Instead of doing that or cutting breads entirely, I just reduced the amount of certain items. For instance, I now eat my sandwiches open-faced with one slice of bread instead of two. I love dips so it was not a huge deal to switch from crackers and hummus to carrots and hummus. I can use greek yogurt instead of plain when making sauce for my Cajun Cod Fish Tacos.

Low Sugar Doesn’t Mean Zero sugar

My biggest takeaway while eating low sugar or no sugar foods was that I don’t hate it. I really don’t!

Last night we went out for sushi and I started to eat a salad with ginger dressing. It was so sweet I couldn’t even take more than a couple bites so I switched to miso soup.

We typically go out to eat on Fridays so I knew I would probably have some sugar. But I have to say I am really happy with our dinner. We shared the Sushi-for-Two and then a delicious dessert. But what I found was just a few bites was plenty. I didn’t need more, I didn’t need my own. This is a big deal.

sushi

I had no idea sugar was responsible for so much of what ailed me! Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and even designing a custom snack delivery box are ways to keep sugar at bay. Every little bit helps, right?

Could you do a no sugar diet?

I promise the first few days are the hardest. If you want to try cutting sugar, I recommend keeping a journal and really listening to your body to see how it makes you feel. You may be surprised! And if you’re looking for a super flexible eating and workout plan, check out my Ultimate Guide to the FASTer Way to Fat Loss.

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19 comments

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19 comments

Erin Lane February 7, 2015 - 11:36 am

It’s amazing, right? I honestly did the 5 day because I had a girl’s night scheduled for tonight and I knew I was going to want wine. 🙂 But I’m going to maintain this and splurge for special occasions. Life is meant to be enjoyed and that does include the occasional cake and glass of wine.

I’m glad you had a good experience. I did too!

Reply
Andrea Updyke February 7, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Yes! It has been really great. And I lost 2lbs! I’ll take it. I needed a major reset because every day had become a “special occasion” 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

Reply
Leigh Powell Hines February 8, 2015 - 7:35 am

Great post, Andrea. And really true. I’ve been on this produce delivery kick, and even though I did Dr. Oz for two weeks, I basically did the same thing as you, but didn’t really count my grams. I really need to do this with Liza. She has way too much.

Reply
Andrea Updyke February 8, 2015 - 8:19 am

Oh my gosh don’t even get me started on the kids food. I was buying natural applesauce in bulk for lunches and just this week realized they did a sneaky switch and what I have now is “original” with double the sugar!! So frustrating.

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Ellen Gerstein February 8, 2015 - 7:37 am

First off, congrats on the learning and results! Do you think 1200 calories is realistic for an active young woman of your height? I’m at between 1900-2200 but I work out a lot. And I’m way older than you, so my metabolism is RIP. Just curious…

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Andrea Updyke February 8, 2015 - 8:18 am

After all the winter “stores” I took in over the holidays, I say yes 🙂 But seriously, that is my absolute minimum and on days when I am active (which have been harder to come by) it’s higher. Mentioning that was just me saying WOAH I felt totally full and I barely met my minimum. That is so unlike me.

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Ellen Gerstein February 8, 2015 - 10:33 am

I want you well fed. I care. 🙂

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Andrea Updyke February 9, 2015 - 10:30 am

I will never starve 🙂 This I can promise you!

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Julie Bigboy February 8, 2015 - 11:29 am

Just this week I started cutting back on sugar. I am currently 2 months off Diet Coke and know that sugar is the next thing on my “hit list” 🙂 I’m confident that I can do it but boy, do I have a sweet tooth. I know it won’t be the easiest thing ever but I “think I can”!

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Andrea Updyke February 9, 2015 - 10:30 am

The hardest part for me is not having my Coke Zero. Like really super hard. That is the one thing I haven’t stopped wanting. Just trying to keep going. I DO like water so it’s not the end of the world. Completely.

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Julie Bigboy February 9, 2015 - 11:02 am

I still think about having a Diet Coke every single day, so yes, that craving is still there for me. I definitely have to wean off the sugar, the headaches I’m having as I withdraw are killers 🙁 But it will be all good in the long run!

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Andrea B. February 14, 2015 - 10:56 am

I am glad to see it worked well for you. I need to try it for myself soon. I am paying more attention but not as much as I would like to. Trying to focus on “added” and not concern myself with natural sugars, but added ones are everywhere!

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Elisabeth July 8, 2016 - 3:38 am

Nice read. Here is my story. I have diabetes 2, it wasn’t a big deal to me. Got medication, felt okayish although my bloodsugar was always too high. Still i didn’t think it was a big issue until i wanted to buy a house and couldn’t get a mortgage protection insurance due to weight and diabetes. Had to get my bloodsugar to an acceptable level. Started the sugar challenge and my life is now changing dramatically. No pain or fatigue anymore, bloodsugar going down quickly and overall i am a happy overweight bunny. (Hopefully i will be able to buy my house soon….one thing for sure….no sugar ever!)

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Sugar is a bad boyfriend September 14, 2016 - 11:18 am

[…] are two things that I’ve seen over and over in my adult life. One is a serious sugar addiction and how insidious sugar really is. Whenever I cut sugar out of the equation, my feelings are […]

Reply
Trine January 3, 2017 - 3:22 pm

Seeing a you are a woman , you’d really need to give this am entire menstrual cycle to see how it affects you. Due to the hormonal changes and simply the mental motivation we get from trying new things it’s hard to tell if it’s your body’s natural cues you felt when breaking a habit, or only the effect of less sugar.

Your description here is how I always feel around the week I ovulate. Not so much after menstruation.

Reply
Jessica @eatsleepbe January 17, 2017 - 3:06 pm

Sugar is incredibly addicting. And if you keep reminding yourself that cancer relies on sugar to grow and spread, that alone may be enough to not go back!

Reply
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[…] Day is around the corner. Of course, many of us decided that this would be the year we cut back on sugar so the idea of another sugar-saturated holiday in the second month of the year just seems unfair! […]

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Ultimate Guide to the FASTer way to Fat Loss November 28, 2018 - 11:03 pm

[…] run half-marathons, committed to making health my priority, cut sugar to lose weight and gained it all back more times than I can count. I’m no success story. But […]

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[…] If you’re finding it hard to go without sugar, take it one day at a time – or 5 days at a time like my friend Andrea did. Find out what she learned from just 5 days without sugar! […]

Reply

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